Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Sense of Completion

One aspect of life as an academic is that the work you are doing today...collecting data, teaching students...typically does not result in tangible accomplishments until much later on. In that regard, this week has been unusual, as I've been lucky enough to experience a sense of achievement in two different contexts.

The first is that I finished writing the first draft of a new piece of research, a paper titled "Neighborhood Information Systems as Intermediaries in Democratic Communities." Yes, it is a real page-turner! This paper is going to receive its first audience in a few weeks in Washington, DC, at the third meeting of the International Working Group on Online Consultation and Public Policy Making. (No, I will not be making the trip back for the meeting! My co-author, Sungsoo Hwang, will thankfully take the lead and deliver the presentation.) It's really nice to have wrapped up my first project here in China. This was a paper that I had done the research for before leaving the United States, but all of the writing, from start to finish, occurred right here in my office on Zhongguancun Lu. Pretty cool!

Meanwhile, a report I worked on back in the spring has just been publicly released. OMB Watch is an advocacy group that focuses on, among other things, the regulatory system in the United States. Essentially, OMB Watch pushes for a more open, transparent, and active regulatory system as it pertains to areas like health, safety, and the environment. One of OMB Watch's aims this year has been to produce a series of recommendations about reforming the regulatory system that could then be delivered to the next administration after Election Day. As part of this process, OMB Watch assembled several groups of academics and practitioners to hash out the details. The report of the group I was involved with covers a variety of issues, such as federal advisory committees, electronic rulemaking, and whisteblower protections. For those of you interested, the report can be accessed online here. Go check it out. I know I will. Given the time lag, I almost remember what it's about!

~Steve

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